I am very confident that we will have Clemson Football on time in September in some shape or fashion. That could mean fans with masks only, fewer fans or no fans, but I think it is going to happen. The NFL released its 2020 schedule a few days ago and expects to start on time. If the NFL begins on time, college football will as well. Perhaps not every school will play, but many will. I've been saying for over a month that this country is too football obsessed and would implode if the football season is postponed or canceled. Everyone is already going stir crazy with no live sports, and the NBA and MLB are trying to figure out how they are going to resume play this summer. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey all but announced the SEC would begin its football season on time, saying that they would not care whether other conferences play or not. Others made similar statements like Penn State's head coach and Notre Dame's AD. As I reported a month ago after our virtual press conference with Dabo, he said he had complete confidence even back then that college football would start on time with Death Valley full of fans.
To me, the big question is what the ACC decides to do. I would bet money that the SEC will begin football on time, but the ACC is obviously not as football-obsessed and has proven to be much more political and bureaucratic than the SEC over the years. In addition, the ACC has schools like BC, Pitt, Miami and Georgia Tech that are located in heavily-populated major cities. You could probably add Louisville to that group as well. Those institutions might decide it's too risky to play games for their players and open stadiums for the fans. On the other hand, the state of Georgia re-opened its businesses weeks ago and took a lot of criticism nationally for it, so perhaps Tech would play after all. Remember, the Tigers' season opener is scheduled for Thursday night at Tech. Then you have schools like Duke and Syracuse that each have liberal administrations and care much more about basketball than football. In fact, Duke announced it would skip the NCAA Tournament even before the NCAA canceled it, which leads me to believe they would not flinch about postponing or canceling football. So the question becomes would the ACC allow a season with only 9 or 10 teams? It would not be any different than 20 years ago when there were only 9 teams in the league. However, it would present some scheduling challenges. Do you play fewer games if your non-conference opponents don't play, or do you find replacement games to fill a 12-game schedule? The Big 10 and Big 12 will be faced with the same questions, and I wouldn't be surprised if the entire Pac-12 cancels football because of all the liberal leadership in that conference. Heck, the Governor of Oregon has already announced that there will be no large gatherings or sporting events in that state for the month of September, and Ohio State was supposed to play at Oregon in early September, which would have been one of the biggest games of the season nationally! Anyway, my hope is that the ACC will decide to play, even if some schools don't, and if the ACC refuses to do that, I hope Clemson somehow goes independent for a year like Notre Dame and finds enough opponents to play close to a full season. There is too much at stake for Clemson to forego the season. The Tigers will undoubtedly be No.1 preseason for the second straight year, and it would be a travesty if the SEC declares one of its schools champion because Clemson was precluded from playing.
On a related note, the states of Florida and Arizona have invited any NFL teams that are prevented from opening stadiums in their own states to come and play all their games there. I expect to see other states make similar announcements. Some NFL teams are beginning organized workouts for their players, which is encouraging for college teams that hope to start camp in August. The consensus among coaches has been that players will require 4 to 6 weeks of training in order to be game ready after all this time off, but Dabo has pointed out that it depends on how disciplined the players are. If they have been following the home workout and nutrition instructions that the staff has been providing them, it shouldn't take any longer than normal to get game ready. On that subject, I personally believe this whole thing will make the gap between Clemson and everyone else--especially in the ACC--even wider. There is so much leadership, accountability and self-discipline in this program that there will be little if any drop off from a conditioning or study standpoint, whereas other programs could have major set-backs.
The NCAA extended the recruiting dead period today until the end of June. It was supposed to end a couple months ago but was extended until the end of May and now the end of June. Dabo has said that it doesn't really impact them at all, though, as he and the other coaches have been regularly texting and calling recruits as usual.
Finally, the NCAA extended its deadline to declare for the NBA Draft indefinitely, which prompts the question on whether the deadline to withdraw from the draft will change. Aamir Simms has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent, meaning if he wants to return to Clemson next season, he must withdraw within at least 10 days of the end of the NBA Combine, which is usually held in late May. Will the combine be rescheduled? Will the draft be rescheduled? We'll have to wait and see, like with everything else.